Building Disaster-Resistant Housing in Developing CountriesThe Build Change organization has established a successful process for building disaster-resistant housing in developing countries. It's an approach that involves working closely with local people to ensure that
- the housing fits local preferences
- the people understand the value of protecting themselves by investing in housing that meets building codes
- Start by learning why some houses collapsed in an earthquake (or sustained serious damage in some other natural disaster), while others did not. This involves carrying out forensic engineering studies.
- Design disaster-resistant houses that are culturally appropriate, i.e., that fit what local people actually want. The Build Change process lets homeowners choose their own layout and materials and manage their own construction (with technical assistance from Build Change advisers). Build Change offers a range of solutions catering for different income levels, family sizes, cultural prefernces and climatic conditions.
- Strengthen the skills of local masons, carpenters, and homeowners by providing training in how to build disaster-resistant housing. Build local capacity by hiring and working with local engineers, architects, builders, universities, and governments and by training students in technical high schools.
- Stimulate local demand. Help rural homeowners see the advantage in investing some of their limited resources in building safer houses. "Make it affordable, easy to implement, and leverage the window of opportunity that exists right after an earthquake disaster."
It is also necessary for local government officials to have an easy way of enforcing building codes. "Create simple building codes, training seminars, and inspection systems that work in rural areas with little infrastructure, budget, time and personnel."
- Measure the change. Look at the prevalence of disaster-resistant houses among new houses being built. "Seeing homeowners building safe houses with their own resources not simply living in houses built for them is the true test of sustainable, long-term change."